Supporters of Narendra Modi,
Supporters of Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister and leader of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate vote counting results for India's general election, in Bengaluru on June 4, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured a third term but will depend on the support of coalition allies to govern after his party failed to win a parliamentary majority of its own.

Modi's Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 240 seats in this year's poll, 32 short of a majority in the 543-member lower house - its worst showing in a decade.

That will leave the BJP reliant on a motley assortment of minor parties to govern, with the larger ones likely to demand concessions in exchange for their support.

Here are the key partners Modi will work with during his third term in office:

Chandrababu Naidu: from jail to kingmaker

Veteran politician and three-time state chief minister Chandrababu Naidu was jailed for two months last year, accused of misappropriating $44.5 million in public funds meant for unemployed youth.

Naidu denies the charges and was bailed on health grounds last October, but the criminal case against him continues.

The 74-year-old is leader of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which dominates politics in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and is the largest BJP ally in the next parliament with 16 seats.

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Naidu began his political career with Congress, the biggest opposition party to the BJP, and is known as a shrewd politician and a hard bargainer.

He has already pledged public support for Modi to retain office but media reports suggested he was likely to demand the role of parliamentary speaker in return, as well as political concessions for his home state.

"He will not have to beg for it anymore. He will take it," political scientist Ramu Manivannan of the University of Denver told AFP.

Nitish Kumar: Fair weather friend

Nitish Kumar, 73, is chief minister of eastern Bihar state and his Janata Dal (United) party is the BJP's second-biggest ally with 12 seats in the next parliament.

Kumar has a reputation for mercurial politicking, frequently changing his allegiance to and from the BJP to suit his interests.

He was one of the founding members of the opposition alliance that competed against Modi in this year's election - but switched sides to support Modi just weeks before the vote began.

Kumar has served as a minister in prior Indian governments and is believed to want a senior ministerial post, with media reports suggesting he will demand several cabinet posts in return for support.

"Modi will have to accommodate the point of view of major partners who have done well in this election," Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, the author of a Modi biography, told AFP.

Shiv Sena: Ideological bedfellows

The Shiv Sena was founded in the 1960s in Mumbai, India's commercial capital, predating the BJP's emergence by several decades but sharing its Hindu-first political agenda.

The party split in two last year after an ugly and byzantine political feud over the spoils of political office in Maharashtra state, its home base.

A faction led by Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and supporting Modi's party won seven seats in this year's election.

With the TDP, Kumar's party and Shiv Sena, Modi has a narrow three-seat majority to govern in the next parliament.

In addition, eleven other smaller parties are allied to the BJP - including several with just a single parliamentary seat - to take the government's total up to 293.